BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s men’s and women’s varsity soccer teams have new head coaches at the helm with new seasons ready to open up next week, but the familiar faces have the programs headed in the right direction.
Gone are longtime men’s and women’s varsity soccer coaches Steve Berquist and Amy Fenzel-Mergott, who both resigned their positions at the end of the last season with a combined 30 years and over 300 wins between them. They are replaced this year with a pair of talented, longtime assistants in Jamie Greenwood and Misty Bunting, respectively, who appear to be ready to keep the highly successful programs moving in the right direction.
This season marks the first autumn in 20 years that Berquist hasn’t been at the helm of the Decatur men’s varsity soccer team, and Fenzel-Mergott, who resigned last year as the only women’s varsity soccer coach the Seahawks have ever had, but Greenwood and Bunting are more than capable of stepping into those big shoes.
For Bunting, the 2007 campaign will be more about reloading than rebuilding, despite having graduated eight starters from last year’s highly successful team and having just one senior on the roster. Bunting will draw on her experiences as an assistant under Fenzel-Mergott as she attempts to put her own stamp on the Decatur program.
“Amy ran the program for 11 years and I was an assistant coach with her for the last four,” she said. “It’s not a huge transition. We should basically pick up where we left off.”
Despite the lack of senior starters, Bunting will draw from a deep and talented group of returning junior players and fill in the gaps with underclassmen called up from last year’s junior varsity team, which ran the table and finished their season undefeated.
“Quite honestly, I think we have a really strong team,” she said. “There is so much soccer talent on the field and most of them have played together for several years.”
A pair of underclassmen in sophomore Morgan Torpey and freshman Leigh Ann Flounlacker will share time in goal and will be fronted by a talented defense. Junior Miranda Conway will anchor the defense at the sweeper position with the lone senior, Ashley Sobol, and junior Erin McGuire on the defensive wings.
The strength of the Decatur women’s team this year will likely be the middle of the field with a good mix of veteran juniors and sophomores at midfield. Juniors Julia Finecey and Erika Anders will be joined by sophomores Taylor Blazer, Lauren Cosgriff and Bradley Janson, in no particular order at midfield. Also in the mix is junior Chele Lathroum, who Bunting said can play anywhere on the field.
Up front, the Seahawks will rely on veteran senior forward Alyssa Hardesty to provide much of the offensive punch. The Seahawks open with a pair of home games against tough Bayside Conference rivals Easton and Parkside.
Greenwood finds himself in a similar situation as he takes over the men’s varsity program with a handful of veteran senior players at key positions up and down the field, and a bunch of talented underclassmen ready to step up. The Seahawks have a strong senior player anchoring each unit on the field. Senior and four-year starter Nick Hogan returns in goal and will be fronted by a defense led by senior Sidney Grupper.
Perhaps Decatur’s most dominant player is four-year starter Logan West, who will roam the middle of the field and make things happen on both offense and defense. Up front, the Seahawks are looking for another solid offensive performance by Bruce Howe, who returns after injuring his hamstring at the end of last year.
Also expected to produce up front is junior Richie Cropper, while senior Tyler Atkins is expected to contribute on defense.